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Scottish Episcopal Church set to vote on same-sex marriage

Scottish Episcopal Church set to vote on same-sex marriage

At their next General Synod on June 9th, the Scottish Episcopal Church will vote on a proposal to allow clergy to preside at same-sex marriages.

Irish Legal News:

Scotland’s third-largest church will take a vote on its position on Thursday 9 June.

Members will be asked to change a section of church law defining marriage as a “physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman”.

According to church documents, the change “would potentially allow the marriage of same-gendered couples in church in late 2017”, in line with same-sex marriage legislation passed in 2014.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, told The Times: “This is a legislative democratic process, so it is not really for me to say that it will happen, but I think that the proposal would not be put unless there was a reasonable chance that it would be approved.

The vote would have to happen in two steps: if it passes in June, it will need to be voted again in June, 2017.


A proposal to amend the marriage canon to permit same sex weddings in churches will be considered by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church next month. The proposed changes, which were requested by the Synod in 2015, remove the current definition of marriage in the first clause of the canon and adds a new “conscience clause” to prevent clergy opposed to the move from being forced to conduct same-sex weddings against their will.

The current Canon, C31, begins by defining marriage by stating: “The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”

The proposed amendment to Canon C31 would replace that wording with a new clause which says: “In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .”

The Synod is being asked to give the proposed amendment a first reading – this requires a simple majority in each house of Synod. If approved, it would return to the Synod next year for a second reading. This would require a two-thirds majority in each house. In between first and second reading, diocesan synods have the opportunity to make their views known on the proposals.

If passed, the Scottish Episcopal Church would be the largest denomination in the UK to allow same-sex marriage. Right now, the Quakers,  Unitarians, and Free Christians, along with Liberal Judaism, allows same-sex marriage and Baptist congregations in the UK are allowed to decide for themselves whether to exercise the privilege.



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Prof. Christopher Seitz

Not that this seems to matter, but ‘individual bishops’ is a poor way of stating the matter. TEC has had diocesan canons, arising in the context of diocesan conventions, in which the plenary voice of the diocese as a whole is what takes form — not unlike the proceedings of General Convention.

Seven Bishops are not dreaming up individual ‘papal’ eccentricities, as is stated for rhetorical flourish here and elsewhere. They are upholding the will of the diocese as formed in constitution and canon. If these dioceses changed their understanding of marriage to fit the trend of GC, and a Bishop ignored that, I suppose one might call them idiosyncratic and obscurantist. But this is not what is happening. They are upholding the constitution and canons that obtain diocesan-wide in their regions.

That has been the polity of TEC.

Susannah Clark

The Scottish Episcopal Church is divided on the subject of lesbian and gay marriage, just as the Church of England is.

In England this division down the middle on grounds of sincere faith and conscience is ‘resolved’ by one group dominating the other group and sanctioning them if they do not live submit to the imposed uniformity.

Now let’s look at Scotland: ““In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .”

Respect for conscience.

An incredibly more mature way of proceeding. A recognition of reality: there just are diverse views on human sexuality. Instead of ostracising people, let priests and PCCs and local churches act in their own good consciences. It forces nothing on anyone else.

Provision for conscience was written into the female priests and bishops issues. Are the consciences of LGBT-affirming people any less worthy of respect?

Unity in diversity – and respect for conscience – is a challenge of grace… a grace to love one another, even when we have diverse views.

I’m sorry, but the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the English Bishops who stood by the ‘Pastoral Letter’ to priests… they are being dominating, and they are out of step with the reality in England, in Scotland, in the US, in Canada.

As a Scot, I am proud of the lead that Scotland has shown on gay and lesbian issues, and notably on transgender rights.

We need to minister to our actual communities, and many English priests want to be affirming of gay sex, and want to welcome and celebrate lesbian and gay relationships, in their own communities.

Those people who don’t want to, should be given strong protections on conscience grounds, and they should serve and minister to their communities in their own good faith and conscience.

Diversity should be recognised, and unity found in Jesus Christ, not in an attempt to impose uniformity that does not exist.

Personally, I believe that individual church communities should be allowed freedom of conscience to minister to their local communities in line with their local church position on the matter. I am opposed to top-down domination on the matter, and therefore I regard TEC’s position as imperfect. I say that hesitantly, and with huge respect for TEC and its autonomy: it has been a beacon to the Anglican Communion, and to many people elsewhere marginalised on grounds of gender or human sexuality.

Thank you, TEC.

Kelvin Holdsworth

The American solution does seem to give individual bishops the power to insist that people in their own diocese cannot marry without going out of diocese.

From the outside, that doesn’t look at all like allowing everyone to thrive without insisting that anyone says something they don’t believe.

The SEC solution proposed (so far!) is for the whole church.

Rod Gillis

Ah, the sgian-dubh, the tartan, and the wee dram, oh to be back in Scotland. God bless the SEC. -The wee Gillis ( :

William Bockstael

Bring in the haggis !!

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